A fifth of LGBT people have been victims of hate crime

The figures have been released by Stonewall.
The figures have been released by Stonewall.

More than a fifth of LGBT people have become victims of hate crime due to their sexual orientation or identity in the last year, research shows.

A study by charity Stonewall found 21% of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people had experienced abuse such as insults, unwanted sexual contact and violence.

For transgender people alone, the figure is almost double this - with 41% having been subjected to hateful behaviour on the basis of their identity in the previous 12 months.

Harassment, intimidation or insults is the most widely reported incident (87%), while more than a quarter of those affected (26%) were exposed to unsolicited sexual advances, the study found.

The survey of 5,000 members of the LGBT community in England, Scotland and Wales, carried out by YouGov, also unearthed a drastic spike in reports of abuse.

A 78% rise in incidents of hate crime against those who are gay, lesbian or bisexual was noted between 2013, when it was 9%, and 2017, when it was 16%.

But few victims report such encounters to the police, with 81% of respondents who had been abused choosing not to make a formal complaint.

Stonewall's chief executive Ruth Hunt said: "While we have come so far in the past 25 years, it is clear that much must still be done before all LGBT people can feel safe, included and free to be themselves in Britain today.

"These findings warn against complacency, and stand as a call to action.

"Building on the achievements of the past and working together as we look ahead, we can all play a role in bringing forward the day when every LGBT person, everywhere, is accepted without exception."

The organisation uses the report to make recommendations including improved police training for LGBT hate crime and a Home Office review of hate crime laws to give them parity with those based on race and faith.

The wide-ranging study also identified experiences of discrimination in daily life.

According to the survey, one in 10 LGBT people were confronted with prejudice when they were looking to rent or buy a property in the last year.

Discrimination has been experienced widely at venues including sports grounds and places of worship, the study found.

Within the last month, 10% of LGBT people have experienced abuse online, it said.

From this, the findings suggest that fear has sprouted - as 36% of LGBT people now say they don't feel comfortable holding their partner's hand in the street, including 58% of gay men.

Harrowing accounts of abuse are included in the report, including from Ava, a 56-year-old from London.

She said: "Someone described their intention to slit my throat and kill me. They went on to say no court would convict them for killing 'the queer bait'."

Elijah, a 19-year-old from south-east England, said: "I live in constant fear of being attacked again due to my gender identity."

David Isaac, chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: "All hate crime is abhorrent. LGBT people, like everyone else, have the right to live safely in the community.

"The current system has created a hierarchy of hate crime. People need to have faith in the justice system and that these offences will be taken seriously.

"That is why we want the government to conduct a full review of hate crime legislation and sentencing guidance."